Fair! And! Balanced!

Death to trademarks!

(Also: the nicest cease-and-desist letter that you'll ever see)

currently playing: Björk - I Miss You

Hold On...

currently playing: Altered Images - Bring Me Closer

Turn Us All To Mutiny

While standing in line for entry to last night’s concert, I remembered just what I’d missed from UK venues: the unmistakable stench of urine. It’s good to be back. Or something.

No pictures, this time, as the Mean Fiddler policy is to stamp on your camera with big hobnail boots if they discover one (having said that, a few people did manage to smuggle them in, but there wasn't anything like the comedy of people bringing in video cameras like in America). Amusingly, the PA was playing Life Without Buildings "The Leanover" as everybody was having their tickets examined. It's strange that I first heard it two weeks ago, and now I'm hearing it everywhere.

The LA2 is a split-level affair, so you can watch groups from the balcony, if you desire. Being something of a purist in these things, I decided against that option, and made my way to the stage, ending up in the second row. Hurrah!

First band on was Klang. Nice enough, but nothing I haven't seen or heard before (as has been pointed out many times, my collection of bands featuring female vocals is varied and comprehensive). Next up, Electrelane. This is where I realise I may have made a slight mistake. I'M IN THE SECOND ROW OF AN ELECTRELANE PERFORMANCE! HELP! The first sonic booms of the bass guitar confirm that I'm in trouble. People in the first three rows clutch their heads as the low frequency sonics hit the back of their brains. The guy behind me develops a nosebleed. Seriously.

It's actually the first time that I've seen Electrelane, and they don't disappoint. The aforementioned Death-bass, a guitarist who bears a slight resemblance to the esteemed Ms. Laverne (now hosting trashy satellite dating shows, but once part of the Band of Champions that was Kenickie), plus lots of groovy keyboard action. I do prefer it when they don't sing, though. They're more intense without words.

Sleater-Kinney come out at around 9:30pm (UK concerts tend to start and finish a little bit earlier than the American ones, I've found), and immediately storm into a blistering "Oh!"

[At this point, we leave the relatively calm and collected manner of this entry so far for a bit of breathless gushing. Please stand by. — Ed.]

OH MY GOD! CARRIE IS WEARING MY BELT! MY BELT! MYYYYYYY BBEEEEEEELLLLLLTTTTT!!!

[*smack* Sorry about that, readers. He's under orders not to do it again. — Ed.]

Ahem. It's at this point that I'm given another culture shock. You see, the audiences at the Cat's Cradle were a little different. Sedate is the wrong word, as there was much dancing, but it never quite got to the point where serious injuries could result. However, back in Britain, there's a certain class of drunken [first syllable of Buckminsterfullerene, rhyming fans] that decide they really deserve to be at the front of the crowd, and that no-one can stop them in attaining this goal. Cue lots of pain for those unfortunate enough to be in their way (i.e. me). This is especially bad if you're already hemmed in to the point where you're close enough to smell the hair of the girl in front (recently dyed blue, for those of you who were wondering about the previous entry), but you can't step back because there's a girl jammed behind you, blowing smoke from her cigarette onto the back of your neck. What about the sides, I hear you ask? I couldn't even lift my arms up without striking several people, so that wasn't much of an option either.

Anyway, the band played much the same set as when I last saw them, playing most of their current album "One Beat", throwing in two new songs, "Giraffe" and "Entertainment", and a smattering of songs from their previous work, including the pirate-themed "The End of You" (the only track from "The Hot Rock" that they played, sadly). Highlights included Corin's teasing version of "Words And Guitar", "One Beat" as an interpretive dance number, and the stomp and glam of "Step Aside". Plus! Janet with an industrial fan! Carrie dances like a rock God once more (but disappointingly without the cool shuffling)! She invites everybody to the after party, only to trip up on the rather British place name; "We don't have names like Rathbourne back in America."

I don't enjoy myself quite as much as last time, due to all the pushing and pulling. I felt obliged to keep an eye on the girl beside me; while I am sure that she was fully capable of looking after herself, she looked extremely close to fainting after the third song, and her small stature meant that she was being thrown around like a hockey puck. She was rather annoyed by this, but her attempts to stop it weren't going very well, so I attempted to absorb most of the momentum from her assailants. Unfortunately, I ended up behind a girl with very long dreadlocks, so for the final two songs I was lashed by coarse bunches of hair. Ow.

Part of me was tempted by the idea of the after party, but when I was in the queue outside, I was in front of the people who were doing the organisation, and it sounded like a "too cool for school" affair, and sadly, I wasn't. Anyway, I had a train to catch, and while it's reasonably acceptable to go to a concert by yourself (although, as it has been four years since I went with someone else, it would be nice to go with someone again), going to a party alone is a little out there. Plus I didn't have enough money for the ridiculous amounts of alcohol that would be required before I had the courage to join a dancefloor that included Janet, Corin, and Carrie.

Was it as good as the Cat's Cradle gig? No, there was something special about that, maybe because it was the first time I had seen them live, maybe Carrie's dance steps, maybe the fact that I had an exam the next morning (did well in it too!), or maybe it was that it lasted until 2am and that the walk back to Chapel Hill from Carrboro was fantastic. Nevertheless, it was still a great concert. And rather a surprising one, considering that their latest album was never officially released here. Hopefully the sell-out of this mini-tour will change that.

currently playing: Electrelane - Long Dark

Hmm

I appear to have remnants of blue hair dye in my nose.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Step Aside

I Rely On Oxygen (Sleater-Kinney II)

Wow.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - O2

Arrr!

If you've ever wondered what Hunter S. Thompson would have been like if he was English and a pirate, then go see Pirates of The Caribbean. It's probably unlikely that this thought has crossed your mind, but go see it anyway. AVAST!

When I first heard about this film, based on the popular Disney ride, I thought it was going to be another example of the shameless cash-ins that the studio has been producing of late. Oh, how wrong was I. Fun one-liners, excellent sword fights that don't call attention to the CGI (yes, Matrix: Reloaded, I'm looking at you), and Johnny Depp stealing the film with all the ease of a master thief. It manages to be predictable in the best blockbuster fashion, while the script rewards the audience for paying attention, yet throws in lots of twists and turns along the way. It's also quite amusing, dragging in a touch of Monkey Island yet at the same time remaining relatively free of knowing self-referentialism. HERE THERE BE MONSTERS!

Johnny Depp is wonderful. To the point where he alone is worth the £5/$10 ticket price. Go! See! It! WHY IS THE RUM GONE?!

Picking niggles because I can: it's a bit slow at the start (although Depp's entrance is note-perfect, telling you almost everything you need to know about the character even before he's stepped on dry land), Orlando Bloom's character doesn't seem to do much except act as the McGuffin, and the final five minutes are little more than a very quick and unsatisfying way of tying up all the loose ends and still having a happy ending. But you've had so much fun during the last two hours that it seems churlish to criticise too much. Plus, it features the main title theme from The Rock, and you can't ask much more from a film than that, can you? MONKEY!

Altogether: ARRRRRR!

currently playing: James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind

Patch Your Machines!

Killing The RPC-DCOM worm:

  • If you’re on a LAN, disconnect the machine from the network before you boot up, to prevent other infected machines from rebooting you again.
  • Right-click on My Computer, select Manage, then under the Services and Applications branch pick Services.
  • Right-click on Remote Procedure Call (RPC) in the list on the right, and select Properties. On the Recovery tab, change the 3 combo boxes from “Restart the computer” to “Take no action”. Click OK to close the dialog.
  • You’re still vulnerable but your machine won’t reboot, giving you time to go online and get the patch. Reconnect your network cable, or establish your normal dial-up connection.
  • Go to http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=823980 to grab the patch for your machine. As soon as you’ve got it, disconnect your network connection/cable, and run the patch. BUT don’t reboot when prompted!
  • Open RegEdit and browse to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and delete the “windows auto update” value, which starts the worm when Windows starts. Now restart Windows and you should be free of the worm.
  • To finish the cleaning process, delete C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\MSBLAST.EXE
currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - The Size of Our Love

Coming Soon To An Airline Intercom

“Passengers In Coach Must Remain Naked For The Duration Of The Flight”

Hmm, let me think: a digital camera, MP3 player, and iBook. I think I'm going to be there a while…

(and thanks, AA, for reducing the price of my flight in September by $200. Grrr.)

currently playing: A Silver Mt. Zion - Broken Chords Can Sing A Little

A Few Words About The Weather

But first, some illustrative images:

The temperature finally broke the 37.1˚C barrier earlier today (that's around 100˚F for those of you still working in old money). Given the state of Britain's weather normally, it seems churlish to complain. But this country simply isn't built to handle this sort of temperature. Back in Chapel Hill, it was regularly this hot during the summer months, yet it never seemed this bad; the area's buildings were designed with the extreme temperatures in mind. Here, however, houses are built with an eye for keeping every last degree of heat trapped inside. Bricks, insulation, fairly low ceilings, etc. Great for those winter months, and, to be honest, most of the year. Not so great during once-a-decade heatwave.

Of course, it's not just our homes; the railway network falls apart as soon as the temperature goes past 30˚C (although it also falls apart of its own accord fairly often as well), economists go into a panic; insisting that the good weather is going to cause havoc on the economy (oh no! People won't buy stuff for a day or two!), and lots of people with white skin decide to give themselves fashionable skin cancer. (strangely, we're probably one of the groups that needs sunscreen the most, yet we refuse to wear it).

For the past week, Britain has been quietly going insane. IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE 22˚C AT NIGHT! How can you enjoy a decent cup of tea when it's this hot? IT'S JUST NOT BRITISH!

Ahem. It looks like the thunder and rain period of the heatwave has just begun. I'm going to go and stand in the rain for a little while. Time to cool down!

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Fight Test

I Do Not Have A Problem

currently playing: Neko Case - Furnace Room Lullaby